Parenting Hack: Kid Check-in

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My friend Ashley Goff is a part-time pastor with three kids, just as I am. When her youngest entered school last year, a friend suggested that she try to spend 15 uninterrupted minutes with each kid when they get home. Let the child decide what she wants to do—talk, read a book, play a game. The point is time together without distractions, smartphones, dinner preparation, etc. This puts a bit of structure around the afternoon chaos of snacks/homework/activities/plaintive requests to play on the iPad.

I filed that suggestion away for this year, with all three kids in school. Count me a fan of the 15 minute kid check-in.

OK, we’ve done it twice since school started.

But both times were great!

James has a little trouble when it’s not his turn, but he’s learning. I’m also learning how to deal with three kids at home in the afternoons, often while I’m trying to finish up the day’s work. I realized that when the kids get home I’m often hurriedly trying to finish one more email, etc., and I end up putting them off with a “just a minute, just a minute.” But by focusing on them as soon as they get home, it gives them a “shot of mommy” so that if I need to, I can go back to the home office and tie up any loose ends more easily.

Ashley’s parenting hack would work as a way of approaching Sabbath too. Sometimes, an uninterrupted day of rest is not possible. (Our Sabbath this weekend was about four hours on Saturday morning). But how about carving out a little time for each person in your family (or spouse, or group of friends) during a weekend? In this way Sabbath becomes a series of intentional encounters—free of phones and other distractions, driven by connection, mutual fun and delight—that weave into a busy weekend.

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photo credit: Rutger Blom via photopin cc

6 thoughts on “Parenting Hack: Kid Check-in

  1. Bob Braxton

    From Alice Mann, “The In-Between Church.”
    Three years we lived in a Big City and the household had (ultimately) three children and four adults. The other “Dad” was very smart post-doctoral (Rockefeller U.) and pointed out something like the following as pertained to the cluster of seven (in our case) – of which you all are only two shy: http://books.google.com/books?id=FdHDFsPQyDUC&pg=PT15&lpg=PT15&dq=human+systems+complexity+grows+Alice+Mann&source=bl&ots=K1wDPdgGNr&sig=ExzwHnWj-HTmGpeFi2H65y17TuM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=08hKUqaIC9X64AOxrYHIBA&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=human%20systems%20complexity%20grows%20Alice%20Mann&f=false

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  2. janewilk

    We just have one teenager, but very crazy evenings (theatre life) and we all hit the breakfast table at 6:45 am just to look at each other’s faces for 15 minutes before we all split off in different directions for the rest of the day, afternoon, evening. It works pretty great…

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  3. Bill Gelwick

    This reminds me of the game we started called “High point low point”. The idea is to prompt conversation at dinner time by each person taking turns telling the high point and low point of their day. It works great, when applied. Again, I think we’ve done it 2 or 3 times since school started. I do like this idea though. I only have one child so far, but taking 15 minutes with her, without distraction, is a great idea.

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